27th November 2009
The long-term vision for the future of Vale of Leven Hospital has taken a big step closer to becoming reality.
The group which was set up to make sure pledges on the future of the Vale were honoured has held its first meeting.
And Chairman Bill Brackenridge described the occasion as a “big day for Vale of Leven Hospital – and the patients who use its services”.
He added: “Today we have drawn a line in the sand. We are no longer trying to establish a vision for the future of the Vale of Leven Hospital; we are now looking to ensure that the vision is implemented.”
Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon had called for the establishment of a monitoring group when she gave broad approval to the health board's plans for the Vale in July.
A wide cross-section of the community – involving 14 different organisations - was represented at the inaugural planning meeting in Dumbarton Burgh Hall.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr Brackenridge said it was vital that members observed some key principles including objectivity, openness, honesty and respect.
He said their remit was clear; they were charged with overseeing the development and delivery of the service changes at the Vale.
They had to make sure the plans became reality, on time – or find out the reasons why the promises were not delivered.
Members were then briefed on key elements of the strategy for the Vale and given the opportunity to outline the information they required.
Areas of particular interest included the relatively low numbers of mothers using the services at the Community Midwifery Unit.
Issues were also raised over the sustainability of the overall plans for the Vale, and ambulance provision, particularly in light of problems for the future of the Helensburgh station.
Jane Grant, NHSGGC’s Chief Operating Officer for the Acute Division, said the plans being formulated were intended for the long term. She stressed that the board was looking to recruit permanent staff and establish permanent facilities.
Turning to the Midwifery unit, she outlined key elements of the three-year marketing plan already under way to boost numbers using the service.
Ms Grant said the board would provide detailed figures on patient activity, with year-on-year comparisons; regular updates on progress with capital works and staff recruitment, and progress on discussions with the ambulance service and GPs.
Concerns for the long-term viability of the unit were expressed by several members, including Councillor Vivien Dance and George Freeman.
And MSP Jackie Baillie suggested widening the scope of the marketing campaign to try to persuade mothers from areas such as Bearsden to use the facilities.
Ms Grant said the challenge facing the CMU was to persuade mothers of the excellence of the service – particularly in view of recent negative publicity.
She agreed to provide additional statistics requested by members.
The board also agreed to provide members with detailed statistics on mental health facilities, including referrals to crisis services and patient numbers in the Christie Ward.
In his closing remarks, Mr Brackenridge said it was vital that members of the monitoring group should take steps to ensure the organisations they represented were fully informed of debates and progress, adding that a two-way communication process was absolutely imperative.
He added: “We're off to a good start, and I look forward to our next meeting.”
The group will meet every two months, with its first full public meeting scheduled for Monday, January 25.
In the meantime, to ensure the message gets out to the maximum number of people, a website has been established.
Launched today (Friday, November 27) it will contain minutes of monitoring group meetings, papers and statistics issued to group members along with details of services currently provided – and planned - for Vale of Leven Hospital.
The site can be found at www.volmonitoringgroup.org.uk
Issued on behalf of the Vale of Leven Monitoring Group by Logan Taylor.
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde's Vision for the Vale strategy followed public consultation between October 2008 and January 2009. Key recommendations include:
The implementation process, which could take around nine months to bring in, will begin with detailed preparation in relation to issues including:
The board's recommendations were subsequently forwarded to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, whose key decisions were to:
The Monitoring Group is charged with overseeing the development and delivery of the 'Vision for the Vale' plans, in co-operation with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Highland. The Group is:
The Cabinet Secretary felt the most straightforward way of assembling the Monitoring Group was to reconstitute and expand the existing Helensburgh and Lomond Planning Group.
The Monitoring Group got together for the first time on Monday, November 23. It will now hold public meetings every second month, and the current planning group Chairman, Mr Bill Brackenridge, will chair it.
Secretariat support for the Group will be provided jointly by NHS Highland and NHSGGC.
Monitoring Group membership: